Chuck Inglish is getting back to work, and we hopped on the phone with him to discuss his brand new single "2003" and the project it's attached too.
It's been slightly over a year since we heard from Chuck Inglish, with his last album Convertibles dropping in April 2014. The talented rapper-slash-producer is about to pop back up with his impending new album, due out this summer, as well as two other projects he already has lined up for the year to come. So, basically, if you thought Chuck was chilling out, he wasn't.
Although The Cool Kids have come to halt, Chuck's vision for himself is as clear as ever, and, as we discussed during our phone call yesterday, it's really been clear since day one. With the premiere of his first leak off his upcoming album, aptly-titled Everybody's Big Brother, we delved into Chuck's distinct production style (he's one of the few producers without a beat tag, yet you always know it's a Chuck beat), how the album title came about (a drug-induced vision), his obsession with the year 2003 (he goes on to list an insane amount of dope shit that happened that year), and much more.
Stream "2003" below, and read on to find out more about about the single, the new album, and Chuck's unique views on the creation of music.
HotNewHipHop: So, Chuck, we’re gunna talk about your new single “2003,” which I’ve been listening too a lot, and then get into the upcoming album. I’ve been a fan of you since The Cool Kids days, I’m not gunna bring that shit up, but like, just to say that I’ve been following your sound. A lot of artists, they change their sound over the course of their career, sometimes it’s for the worse, sometimes it’s for the better, but it’s tricky ‘cause fans always want the “old” you, whatever that was. But I find that you’re one artist who, your sound has always been YOUR sound. It may have evolved, but it’s never been something completely different where fans would be like, 'what the hell is this? This isn’t Chuck Inglish.' You always know right away, this is a Chuck Inglish beat. Is that something intentional in your mind? Do you ever experiment with something that’s completely outside what we know to be “Chuck Inglish”? What’s the process for you there.
Chuck Inglish: I think that I, in every single beat, and a lot people may not know of all the things I’ve done, but I don’t intentionally make things sound like a “Chuck Inglish” beat, you’re used to the vibe that comes off of that music, like the subconscious vibe. ‘Cause none of it really sounds like. People say that you can tell, but you can tell because I use things people don’t use.
Chuck: Not because it sounds exactly the same as the last one, ‘cause if you can find two beats that sound the same, good luck. ‘Cause I can’t do that, it’s not because I don’t want too, it’s more because every beat is like different film. A movie maker or a film maker doesn’t write the same film twice, it doesn’t entertain you. But you can tell which film maker made that film just by certain styles, how I make the chorus, how I do certain things in the beat where every 8 bars it might change up. If I could do anything it would be to not make the same thing twice— but to keep the same energy. ‘Cause I individually am my music, you know what I mean, like no matter what I do I’ll sound like it. It’s like a kid playing with his toys, he’s gunna do things his way, that’s kinda how I see my music. More now than before, when me and Mikey was doing our thing, our last record we did, I might have danced around my sound, and it still turned out to be the same one, but it’s not as, I wanna say confident, as it is now, ‘cause I’m happy with my sound. I know what I can do, and I’m doing different types of beats, like the Mac Miller one, “Wear My Hat,” where there wasn’t any synthesized sounds in there, but it still sounded like everything else, I think that’s more of my point now. Because when I was growing up I used to idolize the fact that no matter what it sounded like, I could always tell what a Neptunes beat was, or a Timbaland beat. More Neptunes than I could Timbaland. I used to always look up to that, and respected that, to the point where I couldn’t wait to not have a beat tag, ‘cause I don’t have a beat tag! And that’s not too many people can say that shit. It’s something for me to stand on, like where you can say you know that’s a Chuck Inglish beat and you don’t even hear a tag from me, you know what I mean.
HNHH: Mhmm that’s true. And like something else you had just mentioned that I also wanted to talk about—you’re a well-respected producer in the game but there aren’t like Chuck Inglish copycats, whereas, like, DJ Mustard or certain Atlanta producers now they’re just being mimicked and that makes it even more difficult to tell, cause there are so many DJ Mustard rip-off beats, you’re like, well, this coulddd be Mustard. That’s why I find it’s another reason it’s distinctly you— cause like you said, no one uses those sounds in their instrumentals. And [your sound] is like a fine line between old school and modern. Why do you think that is, that people aren’t trying to copy a Chuck Inglish beat— or have you come across those attempts at all in the course of your career?
Chuck: Umm, I would say it’s not really to be copied 'cause you don’t notice it, but nothing really sounds the same. There’s not really a Chuck Inglish drum kit. Without saying this and making it sound full of myself, I know what I’m doing, and my intention of how I wanted to be perceived by people. I wanted to be...I am the super-producer. On top of the fact that I rap to my own shit and I’m an artist, I just wanted to be the X-man of everything. It wasn’t a braggadocios, like attempt at that first, but the first thing I ever tried was The Cool Kids—first thing, within months of me doing that shit we were on tour with M.I.A., you know what I’m saying, I always wanted to have a touch where if I put my finger in the water the ripple was bigger than you expected. My style has been copied beyond belief, like style of how I dress, what I represent…
HNHH: [Laughs] Yeah.
Chuck: But the sounds can’t been copied cause I don’t use the same sounds. I could use the same clap, that you may think sounds the same, but if you really compare it, it’s not. I’m very, very, very meticulous about details, and it’s the smallest shit you wouldn’t understand, but it makes sense to me, and that actually changes everything. If you listen to The Bake Sale, or anything else I’ve ever done before, there’s never the same drums on that whole body of music. I’ll be damned if I ever used the same drum kit twice. Even with, like, things that you think are the same clap, they’re mixed differently, I mix every sound down to its bare essential just 'cause that shit is cool to me. 'Cause the people I came up under and the people I looked up too…Half of the reason I moved to California is because of The Alchemist. That’s like one of my best friends in music, and I learned a lot from him. Alchemist will fuck with a sound for a whole day— one sound, one whole day, until it sounds the way he wants it to sound. I have that fire. If I don’t like it, it doesn’t matter if the artist is like, ‘yo that’s shit hot.’ It’s not just about liking it to say I like it, I know the listener will have a better time with this song if this hi-hat is over instead of over here. I think that’s the difference between me and the other rapping world.
HNHH: Yeah, I feel like you are a producer’s favorite producer— even if rap fans aren’t aware, a producer will know.
Chuck: Right. And that’s why with this next project, don’t sleep on me on some rap shit. I played The Cool Kids, it existed how it existed. If I was over-rapping or was socially-conscious, then it wouldn’t be The Cool Kids. Like everybody can’t do what everybody does, and I think that’s a lot of the barricades that a lot of artists run into, because everyone is listening and trying to find the Kendrick in every new rapper then they’re never gunna be satisfied. In the golden age of hip-hop, you were criticized for sounding like anybody, period. I think that happens with a lot of new beatmakers too, or a lot of new artists in general, because people do look for…they look for the similarities in anything so they can be comfortable.
HNHH: Yeah, I feel like there are so many rap ‘trends’ today that anyone tries to hop on any one, thinking oh maybe that’ll pop off.
Chuck: Music is not what it is to everybody else [to me]. They consume it like food, like they get what they need and it’s over. I appreciate it like the things on my wall that I don’t want to move one inch. Like I can’t just eat music and digest it and be over it like that.
HNHH: Yeah, and I was just thinking like your song “2003,” your fascination with that era— in the song you talk about things from that era, like burning CDs. I just feel like, you’d listened to music longer just because you’d have to go through the process, if you wanted to listen to it in your car you’d have to compile a playlist and burn it to a CD, and you didn’t do that every day, you’d do it once in a while, so you’d just listen to those songs longer. You wouldn’t just consume it like food where you listen to this one song today and tomorrow…
Chuck: Yeah, our process of receiving music now, like you know that when you wake up in the morning, somebody’s gotta put a new song out. Once you hear it, you’re on to the next. Instead of what it used to be, which was like, burners. I couldn't listen to music on my phone-- I had a T-Mobile Sidekick, I couldn’t listen to shit on my phone. We basically have prostituted music to its lowest extent. Basically an artist makes this content and is supposed to release it for free so everyone can check it out. But it’s not looking like that for film; it’s not looking like that for gallery shows. It’s not totally the listener and consumer’s fault, 'cause artists do the same shit— they don’t mind putting out low-quality shit 'cause people just want it. That builds a behavior that’s not cool between the listener and the musician, and I feel like I’m in a position to change that. There was a point in time where I changed how everybody looked at rap— and we still wasn’t that big.
HNHH: Coming back to “2003,” what’s your fascination with '03, why a whole song about it?
Chuck: We’re close to 13 years past, and that was one of the more pivotal years in hip-hop— like when 1998 happened, when all of that rap came out, or when 1995 happened. Like, 2003 is pretty much 1995 for the 2000’s. Like Dipset, fucking throwback jerseys, everything changed over, like the camera phone, that was my first year in college.
HNHH: What’s your absolute favorite thing from 2003?
Chuck: Chappelle Show. Chappelle Show was probably the illest thing that happened to me in 2003. Mainly because I’m in school, I just met and becoming cool with your whole crew of friends, it’s the winter time of my Freshmen year, and it was like the one thing that made everybody in school, like you clique’d up with your friends, I think it was on a Tuesday, a Tuesday at 9. And you knew that when you got to school the next day there wasn’t one person, one race, one type of person that didn’t see that shit the next day. Everybody watched it, and that was something I witnessed. Like I tweeted about it, the whole country hasn’t been on the same page since the Chappelle Show. Even though it was controversial everybody got to laugh at themselves a little bit. Shit was a little bit lighter then…The war had just gotten crackin’—so we didn’t even know we were fucked yet, you know what I mean. It was the end of the 2000s, didn’t nobody go broke. Black Album was about to drop, a whole bunch of good shit crackin’. And what we perceived as a technological revolution was happening. Camera phone, like we were off tapes, it was full CDs now, the Apple computer was in five different colors and shit. All of that shit that we remember from the 2000s was birthed in 2003. 2003 was when it peaked, so that’s why I made the song ‘cause I remember that shit.
HNHH: What can you tell us about this dude featured on the track, Grey Sweatpants? How’d you find this guy?
Chuck: Umm, he’s related to me. He’s been my little cousin, but he grew up in the era of The Cool Kids, and through that, I remember him telling me like, ‘yo I’m gunna rep for the ‘90s kids like yall did.’ I ain’t believe him at first, but he came to stay with me, I left the song up for a day, it was on some little cousin-big cousin shit, when I came back I was like, ‘damnnn, dawg. If that’ ain’t 2003.’ Like an attack on Michael Jackson in the news every week? If that’s not 2003 I dunno what is, so I had to keep him on there and it ended up being like the biggest part of the song.
HNHH: And how is it being both the producer and the rapper on your track versus just doing the production for another artist? Like do you prefer doing both so you have complete control, or how much do you involve yourself when you’re just the producer?
Chuck: When I’m just the producer I see it all the way through, but I see it with your voice. I produce it to the end, like I have the hook, I have how I feel like your voice should sound, what you should stay instead of that. Like there are beatmakers, there are song producers, and if you don’t see the song all the way through then you didn’t produce it. The artist on the song should see you, they should trust you as the producer, like this is gunna work, I have the best intentions for you for this song. With me, it’s a little bit harder than with other people, ‘cause I ain’t the best person to get along with, with myself. I’m cool with myself, I completely love myself, but when I’m rappin’ and I’m writing it, I’m harder, cause who am I talking too? If I’m like, ‘yo that’s line’s wack,’ that’s line’s wack bro, and that’s like me to myself. I don’t know if other people go through that with themselves, but it’s fun. That frustration excites me. That Erykah Badu line, “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit”—that shit’s fucking real, I’m just not as openly sensitive. But putting my neck on the line is fun to me.
HNHH: Like you said, you pay attention to a lot of details and I find you take your time, you don’t just drop a song every day of the week. When I hear from you, you’re dropping something big, like there’s an album, and then there’s a hiatus, there’s a break in between those kind of things— is it just because you’re perfecting everything?
Chuck: If I could say that in my artistry, I know that there’s a lot of people that understand my personality, and I’m not, not a personable person—I don’t have problem with being in sight. But when it comes to music, if I don’t have nothing to say I’m not gunna say shit. My artwork represents me as a person, I’m cool and I like people, but I don’t want me as a person [to be] there representing my music, my music represents myself, and it should never be other way around. So if I don’t have shit, it’s like what I gotta say? I entertain but I’m not an entertainer. When I got good music, then that’s what we talking about it. When I’m producing something that people can enjoy, that’s what we talking about. When I’m bringing something to the table that I know is healing the world sonically or visually, that’s what we talking about. Anything else, we don’t need to be talkin' 'bout that shit.
HNHH: So I guess this is the case with your upcoming album Everybody’s Big Brother…I obviously don’t know you too well, but I feel like that’s accurate title for some reason, I feel like this big brother vibe.
Chuck: That’s funny, but I’ve always, through any artist that is big now, whether it be Big Sean, anybody, they got a story from when they was kicking it with me before it happened. You know what I mean, I was the first one in this Internet generation age that mattered. We kicked the door open for a whole another generation. So, it’s like I know that that’s what peoples’ perception of me is. I went on an Ayahuasca journey this year, and tried to basically get in touch with myself. Not even myself, but a different side of this earth experience. Like we can listen to whoever we wanna listen too, we can believe whatever we wanna believe, but if we don’t try shit on our own we never know. I’m not scared at the repercussions of trying shit, I’m not scared of putting my neck on the line for the greater good, so I wanted to see something. So me and my girl went on a ceremony and through my vision that shit asked me who I am, and that was the answer, and I was like, oh shit, it clicked. And I started the album the day after that.
HNHH: Wait, so where did you go?
Chuck: I took some Ayahuasca, which is like a natural DMT brew.
HNHH: Ohhh. Okay okay, that’s crazy, that’s a crazy story for how you came up with the title.
Chuck: Anybody that take it, will understand that it’s deep. That’s why I believe in this album enough, it has an emotional attachment to it. My last album came from me just wanting a title for my last album. Convertibles to me was a really good record, I love it, but if I had to compare if it meant something to me towards this, I can’t. It’s not that big of a deal. I didn’t believe in this shit as much as I believe in what I’m doing now, 'cause I know my purpose of what I serve, the music that I bring to the world, I know this shit is gunna sink in. I’m not here to make the most well-rounded album. Like, 'what do I want people to hear from me in July 2015?', that’s it, not like, 'if this is my last album what would I make?' Cause I have another one that’s coming in December and another that’s coming in October , they all serve different purposes. But this is the album that I feel like will be the arc, this is where everybody join me at, even if you didn’t listen to The Cool Kids shit, or you didn’t hear Convertibles or my mixtape Drop Tops, you’ll join in right here. I believe that title, that title is me.
HNHH: I also heard on your album, that you have features from Donmonique and Key!. Donmonique, she’s gunna be a problem, she’s crazy. So how did you connect with her and what can you tell us about that collaboration specifically?
Chuck: I know her manager, and he been telling me about her for a while, and then I saw her video for “Pilates.” And it was just like, I know fresh shit. When Convertibles came out like most of the artists that were on it were people I was a big fan of but I saw something in— when I did it, it was like 2011, like Vic, Chance and Action Bronson, were people I believed but weren’t necessarily household names then. I feel like I’ve always had a vision for people who have it. And I think she got it. As far as a female rapper, in rap today, I believe her. I gotta believe that that’s what you were, that’s not just some shit you saw. I known Key! for a long time, I always thought Key! was one of the hottest, not even conceptually but to be able to put so much energy in a song and say so much at the same time. And I got Man Man Savage on the record, which, [is] another dude I believe in. It’s people that I’m listening to right now that I don’t even think people are on, and if I could put them on my record and they’ll rise up, then I’ma do that every single time.
HNHH: And, like Man Man Savage I’m not familiar with, is there anyone else on your album like that, that people are gunna be introduced to for the first time?
Chuck: I have Manolo Rose, you heard of him?
HNHH: Yeah, yeah.
Chuck: I have Manolo Rose on a record with Reese. I have one of my closest friends from the UK, Yazmin, I have Aaliyah Rose who is Teena Marie’s daughter, who has one of the most original voices I’ve ever heard. I have Maxo Kream and Fat Tony on a song dedicated to old Houston shit. I kept it really friendly, if I don’t know you personally.
HNHH: Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.
Chuck: It’s hard for me to just reach out and make shit 'cause a person has a hot name right now, because that’s not how my music connects.
HNHH: Where did you record the album?
Chuck: I did it all at my home.
HNHH: In California?
Chuck: Yeah, me and my girl got a new place, that was specifically made for her job and my job together so we could work at home. I have a little bedroom that I specifically designed and I got all the instruments I would need to create in a little bubble. This album was made for me to re-establish myself to the masses, where you listen to it and you’re like, who the fuck is that? ‘Cause my next record, I’m tryna out do anything I’ve ever done. This is fun, this is for the summer, but when I put out the next one in December, there is where I want you to be like, 'oh shit, I think I know Chuck Inglish now.' So, making little steps up so that every record completes a whole story path of another one.
HNHH: Basically, you have Everybody’s Big Brother coming up this summer, and then you already have your plan for the next year.
HNHH: Crazy, well we’re looking forward to that shit.